UPDATE: Thanks to all who responded. We found a lawyer who is applying for legal aid. We want to challenge Home Office who say they are “protecting the public and combating the effects of persistent offending” by deporting her.
We are the English Collective of Prostitutes, a network of sex workers working both on the streets and indoors. Since 1975, we have been campaigning for decriminalisation and safety for sex workers. We help sex workers defend themselves against criminal charges and deportation.
We are urgently looking for a lawyer interested in the human rights of sex workers and/ or EU nationals to help us with a case of a Romanian woman currently in Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre. The woman faces deportation for being a “persistent offender” because between 28 April 2017 and 26 June 18, she was convicted six times for loitering and soliciting.
Despite much opposition to the criminalisation of sex workers and talk from the police about how sex workers are victims, women are continuously being arrested. Arresting, prosecuting and convicting women goes against National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Policing Sex Work Guidance, which states that the safety of people engaged in sex work must be paramount and that police enforcement against sex workers “puts sex workers at greater risk.”
We think it is outrageous that the woman’s convictions for a crime of poverty are being used as a reason to deport her. She should be entitled to help and support, not arrest, detention and deportation.
We are very worried that if this woman is deported it would set a dangerous precedent for deporting migrant sex workers just because they have convictions for prostitution.
Deporting the woman would also devastatingly mean separating her from her family and friends who are in the UK, including her mother who she cares for..
We have spoken to lawyers in our network (who can’t take on the case) who say the woman has to make a family and private life case in her defence. This requires a much more complicated and detailed submission which is why we are appealing for a lawyer to take on the case.
We have until 7 November 2018 to make further submissions.
If you can help, please contact ECP at:
020 7482 2496,
07837 076 540
We hope to hear from you.
Niki and Laura